Mrs. Caliban

Feb 5 – March 28, 2010

“In short, ‘Mrs. Caliban’ is a fascinating piece — it’s creative, ambitious, sensual, unusual and, frankly, haunting.”  –Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune

“Lifeline’s production is an entirely seamless work, with Frances Limoncelli’s spare but eloquent adaptation, Ann Boyd’s fluid yet precision-tooled direction”  –Hedy Weiss, Chicago Sun-Times

“In Limoncelli’s high-spirited adaptation, it’s a deeply funny story of grief and emotional shipwreck.”  –Caitlin Montanye Parrish, Time Out Chicago

Dorothy is locked in a lifeless marriage of empty domestic ritual until a fugitive from another world arrives on her doorstep. With him, she finds forbidden love and experiences a rebirth of her spirit, as she learns to question her assumptions about the world. Join Dorothy on a whimsical and heartbreaking journey as she dares to live — and love — unconventionally, in this remarkable drama acclaimed as one of the greatest post-war American novels. By the award-winning adaptor of Gaudy Night.

A world premiere based on the post-modern fable by Rachel Ingalls
Adapted by Frances Limoncelli
Directed by Ann Boyd

  • Brenda Barrie (Dorothy)

    Brenda gratefully returns to Lifeline Theatre where she previously portrayed the title role in Mariette in Ecstasy (Joseph Jefferson Nomination: Principal Actress & Ensemble). As an Ensemble Member with BackStage Theatre Company, some of her favorites are Aunt Dan and LemonHow I Learned to Drive, and Waiting for Lefty (Non-equity Jeff Nomination: Ensemble). Select Chicago credits include: The Ruby Sunrise(Gift Theatre – remounting at Theatre on the Lake in July); Graceland (Profiles); understudying Of Mice and Men (Steppenwolf Theatre – SYA); A Streetcar Named Desire(Metropolis); and Caravaggio (Silk Road Theatre Project). She received her BA in Theatre from the University of Indianapolis and studied theatre at the University of Ulster, Northern Ireland.

  • Monica Dionysiou (Sandra, Majorette)

    Monica is making her first appearance on the Lifeline stage. Her Chicago credits include Unsung Stars (Moving Dock Theatre Company); New Anatomies (20% Theatre Company); Be, and a staged reading of Lower Debts (LiveWire Chicago Theatre Company). Other Credits include, Five Women Wearing the Same Dress (Richmond Triangle Players) All My SonsAnti-bellum: A Reclamation of the Southern Belle, and Balloons and Bondage (Shaffer Street Lab). By day, Monica works as an actor with Chicago-based BOOM TROUPE, bringing quality assemblies to young audiences all around the Chicagoland area. Monica has a BFA in Performance from Virginia Commonwealth University, has studied with the DAH Theatre in Belgrade Serbia, and has trained locally with the Moving Dock Theatre Company.

  • Dan Granata (Fred)

    Dan is pleased to make his Lifeline debut with Mrs. Caliban. He most recently appeared in New Leaf Theatre’s The Man Who Was Thursday and Touch, and as part of the ensemble in Caffeine Theatre’s Under Milk Wood. Other Chicago credits include Raven (Hedda GablerLaughter on the 23rd Floor), Signal Ensemble (1776), Open Eye (Trust), and the Right Brain Project (Chalk). Elsewhere in Rogers Park, Dan serves as Managing Director of the side project theatre company.

  • Peter Greenberg (Larry)

    Peter has performed many roles on the Lifeline stage. Some of his favorites include Rochester in Jane Eyre, Lord Peter Wimsey (in four shows), Fogg in Around the World in 80 Days, Tristram in The Talisman Ring, and a sheep. Peter has directed and adapted for the Lifeline stage, and he has acted extensively in regional theater in everything from Shakespeare and Moliere to Neil Simon and Sam Shepard. He also co-founded The Actors Shakespeare Company, a classically-based theater company in Albany, New York.

  • Jenifer Tyler (Estelle)

    Jenifer has been a Lifeline ensemble member since 2001. Most recently she was delighted to make her third appearance as Harriet Vane in Busman’s Honeymoon. Other Lifeline credits include: Mina in Dracula; Lydia in Pride and Prejudice; Kitty in Cotillion; Jane in Jane Eyre (for which she received a Jeff Citation for Outstanding Actress in a Principal Role); Ida/Phyllis in Trust me on This; Bathsheba in Far From the Madding Crowd, and Harriet Vane in both Strong Poison and Gaudy Night. Jenifer also directed The Velveteen Rabbit for Lifeline’s KidSeries.

  • Mallory Nees (Understudy)

    Mallory is a recent graduate of The Theatre School at DePaul University. Some favorite roles include Pennywise in Urinetown (dir. Dexter Bullard), Florina in Mad Forest (dir. Carlos Murillo) and Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest. Before coming to Chicago, Mallory performed at various venues in her home state of Wisconsin as Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Gilda in Design for Living, and Sarah in Spinning Into Butter. Since graduation, she’s worked with a few companies in Chicago, but none as often as Lifeline. This season, she’s been in Lifeline’s KidSeries productions of Dooby Dooby MooThe Last of the Dragons, and The Blue Shadow. Next up, she’ll appear in The Good Soul of Szechuan at Strawdog Theatre Co.

  • Andrew Strenk (Understudy)

    Andrew is thrilled to be working with Lifeline in his debut performance. Credits include The Real Thing with St. Sebastian Players, Into The Pooland Margaret Fleming with Blackbird Theatre, where he is also a company member, and most recently BENT with Hubris Productions. This past summer he also filmed a feature with Glass City Films.

  • Frances Limoncelli (Adaptor)

    Frances is proud to be an ensemble member at Lifeline. She has appeared in their productions of Pistols For TwoPrecious BanePinocchioBunniculaand as the title role in Mrs. Piggle Wiggle. She has also directed several productions at Lifeline including Simple Jim And His Four Fabulous FriendsThe Story Of FerdinandMiss BiancaHalf MagicCooking with Lard, and Queen Lucia: A Musical Romp. As an adaptor she created The Emperor’s Groovy New Clothes and Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch with Queen Lucia’scomposer/lyricist George Howe and Lifeline’s popular Dorothy L. Sayers series, including Whose Body?Strong Poison (Non-Equity Joseph Jefferson Award: New Adaptation), Gaudy Night (Non-Equity Jeff Award: New Adaptation), and Busman’s Honeymoon. Around Chicago she has appeared in Shear Madness at the Blackstone; The House Of Martin Guerre and Cry, The Beloved Country at the Goodman; Master Class at Northlight Theatre; Falsettos at Appletree Theatre; Lifeline’s Pride And Prejudice for Chicago Theatres On The Air to name a few. At Vermont’s Weston Playhouse she has played some of her favorite roles including Mary in Merrily We Roll Along, Emma Goldman in Ragtime, Carrie in Carousel, Fraulien Kost in Cabaret and Mrs. Montgomery in The Heiress. Most recently she directed The Memory of Water for Backstage Theatre Company and Click, Clack, Moo at the Weston Playhouse. Frances graduated from the Boston Conservatory with a BFA in theatre performance and an emphasis in directing.

  • Ann Boyd (Director)

    Ann is a performer, choreographer, director, writer and teacher. Recent production work includes creating an original physical theater performance Coming Home with Freshman at Columbia College; directing the Sweat Girls in Sweatily Ever After; choreographing Dead Man’s Cell Phone at Steppenwolf; performing her solo No Time Like the Present at Finch Gallery; directing Maia Morgan’s solo And now, the octopus for Live Bait’s Filet of Solo Festival; directing Arlene Malinowski’s one-woman show Aiming for Sainthood at 16th Street Theater in Berwyn; and performing her original story Naguales at Chicago Public Schools as part of Urban Gateways Touring Program. Ann currently teaches movement for actors at Columbia College Chicago, Solo Performance and a physical approach to text at the University of Chicago. She teaches with Urban Gateways and is influenced, both in her teaching and her craft, by her interdisciplinary background and she draws upon Viewpoints work and constraint-based composition as generative tools.

  • Stephanie Ehemann (Stage Manager)

    Stephanie returns to Lifeline where she previously stage managed Mariette in Ecstasy. Previous SM credits include The Ballad of the Sad CafeThe Prime of Miss Jean BrodieThe Birthday Party1776 (Jeff Award – Best Musical), Fool for LoveHamletThe WeirCloserShe Stoops to Conquer, and Waiting for Godot with Signal Ensemble Theatre, where she is also Managing Director. This spring, she will SM Signal’s production of Aftermath. Other Chicago companies she has worked with include First Folio, Bailiwick and Big Picture Group. Stephanie holds a BA in Theatre and Business from Illinois Wesleyan University.

  • Josh Horvath (Sound Designer/Original Music)

    Lifeline: The Piano Tuner. Off Broadway: Clay (Lincoln Center) Chicago: Ma’ Rainey’s Black BottomFencesCarouselEnd GameTitus AndronicusCaroline or Change (Court Theatre); ElectricidadProofRock n RollAin’t MisbehavinThe Crowd You’re in With (Goodman); Taking CareJesus Hoped the A’ Train (Steppenwolf); 1984They All Fall DownFedraAround the World in 80 Days (Lookingglass); WinesburgRaising Voices (About Face); Rose and the Rhime (The House Theatre). Regional: Kansas City Rep, Madison Rep, Milwaukee Rep, Great River Shakespeare, Kirk Douglas Theatre, Hartford Stage, Long Wharf, and Milwaukee Shakespeare. Josh has three Joseph Jefferson awards, and LA Weekly nomination, teachs sound for film and theatre at Northwestern University. Recent and upcoming shows: The Long Red RoadThe Good NegroSins of Sor Juana (Goodman); Venice (Kansas City Rep).

  • Branimira Ivanova (Costume Designer)

    Branimira is a graduate of the University of Connecticut – MFA Costume Design and the International Academy of Design and Technology- BFA in Fashion Design. She is thrilled to be back at Lifeline Theatre, where she designed costumes for Treasure IslandMariette In EcstasyThe Picture of Dorian GrayThe Mark of Zorro, and Talking it Over. Other recent work includes Little Brother at the Griffin Theatre, Of Mice and Men at Steppenwolf for Young Adults, Talk Radio at Gift Theatre. Other theater companies she has worked with in Chicago are The Gift Theatre Company, City Lit, Emerald City Theatre, Pegasus Players, Infamous Commonwealth Theatre, Bailiwick Repertory, Black Sheep Productions, and dance companies: Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Gus Giordano Jazz Dance, Breakbone Dance Company and Thodos Dance Company. Out-of-state she has worked with Connecticut Repertory Theatre, Berkshire Theatre Festival (MA) and Miniature Theatre of Chester (MA). Internanionally she has worked with the National Portuguese Ballet and Introdans, Nl. Branimira is a recipient of Certificate for Excellence in Theatre Design by USITT in 2007. Her work was part of the United States National Exhibit at the Prague Quadrennial World Stage Expo in Prague 2007.

  • Brandon Wardell (Lighting Designer)

    Brandon is a freelance Lighting and Scenic Designer in Chicago. He earned his MFA from Northwestern University, teaches at several Universities, and is an Ensemble Member at Adventure Stage Chicago. Recent lighting credits include Aunt Dan and Lemon (BSTC), The Hollow Lands (Steep), On An Average Day (BSTC), The Arab-Israeli Cookbook (Theatre Mir), John & Jen (Appletree), and The Robber Bridegroom (Griffin Theatre). Scenic Designs include Maria’s Field (TUTA), In Arabia We’d All Be Kings (Steep Theatre), Holes (Adventure Stage), Dracula (The Building Stage), and Be More Chill (Griffin Theatre). Teaching credits include Northwestern University, Columbia College Chicago, The University of Chicago, Illinois Wesleyan University, and North Park University.

  • Chelsea Warren (Scenic & Properties Designer)

    Chelsea is excited to return for her fourth project with Lifeline Theatre, having designed Flight of the Dodo (scenery), The Dirty Cowboy (scenery) and The Piano Tuner (shadow puppets). Other Chicago projects include: production design for Acis & Galatea (Chicago Cultural Center and Millennium Park Stage), scenery for The Hollowlands (Steep Theatre), costumes for boom (Next Theatre) and Harper Regan (Steep Theatre). International project include: designing the unveiling event Stones/Air (Barossa International Sculpture Park in Southern Australia); sceneography design for Woman In the Dunes (Parisian company, Unikaji residency in Zagreb, Croatia). Chelsea received her MFA in Stage Design from Northwestern University. Upcoming projects include: scenery for A Separate Peace (Steppenwolf) and Ghosts of Treasure Island (Adventure Stage Chicago).

  • Ian Zywica (Technical Director)

    Ian works throughout Chicago as a freelance Scenic Designer and Technical Director. While being the staff Technical Director at Lifeline Theatre, he has also designed and built The Robber Bridegroom (Griffin Theatre); Once On This Island and Miracle on 34th Street(Porchlight Music Theatre); and The Last Barbecue (16th Street Theatre). Upcoming designs include Over the Tavern (Noble Fool Theatre), Into The Woods (Porchlight Music Theatre), and One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (The Gift Theatre).

  • Cortney Hurley (Production Manager)

    Cortney is excited to be kicking off her fourth season with Lifeline after working on such productions as The Island of Dr. Moreau and The Mark of Zorro. Previous production management positions include the last three seasons at Strawdog Theatre, Ellen Under Glasswith the House Theatre of Chicago, and One False Note with Plasticene. She currently serves as the Production Manager and General Manager at Strawdog Theatre, as well as the Assistant Production Manager at Theater on the Lake since 2004.

From the Chicago Sun-Times

Dreamy perfection in sensual ‘Mrs. Caliban’
February 17, 2010
By Hedy Weiss

Brenda Barrie’s opening sequences alone worth the trip

Take note: The most erotic scene on any Chicago stage at the moment can be found at Lifeline Theatre, where a superb stage adaptation of “Mrs. Caliban” — based on the deceptively whimsical, darkly disturbing 1983 novel of the same name by Rachel Ingalls — received its world premiere Monday.

Note, too, that it hardly matters at all that the coupling here involves Dorothy, a lovely, sadly desperate housewife whose marriage has gone cold (she is played by the altogether exquisite Brenda Barrie, an actress of breathtaking expressiveness), and Larry (Peter Greenberg, revealing a previously unexplored aspect of his talent here), an aquatic creature of the large green lizard variety, who might well be a figment of Dorothy’s imagination.

The foreplay between these two could not be more winningly imagined (she offers the hungry, vegetarian-only monster stalks of celery, and later happily feeds his appetite for avocados). The sheets could not be more diaphanous. The lovers’ intimacy (including his initial crudeness) could not be more believable or more ideally choreographed. And the afterglow could not be more luminous.

Whether “Larry” is a true (and elicit) lover hardly matters. Dorothy believes in him, and so do we, be he an escaped mental patient, a prisoner on the run, a victim of torture or something altogether different. Her madness easily becomes ours, and it is compelling.

Ingalls, who grew up in Cambridge, Mass., but has lived in Europe since 1965, was catapulted into the spotlight in 1986 when the British Book Marketing Council named the barely known Mrs. Caliban one of the 20 best novels by a living, post-World War-II American writer. That aside, it surely is a story that captures the post-feminist era as it knowingly probes into the more devastating pitfalls of marriage, divorce, promiscuity and the death of a child. Its title, which uses the name of Shakespeare’s angry, battered, affection-starved slave in “The Tempest,” also suggests that love and anguish and captivity are inextricably linked.

Lifeline’s production is an entirely seamless work, with Frances Limoncelli’s spare but eloquent adaptation, Ann Boyd’s fluid yet precision-tooled direction, Julia Neary’s dreamy, comic-tinged choreography, Chelsea Warren’s subtly disorienting white-on-white set and Branimira Ivanova’s magnificent costumes all of a piece.

Barrie, who has created a series of indelible portrayals in recent seasons (in “Mariette in Ecstasy,” “Graceland” and “The Ruby Sunrise”), is a true treasure. With her alabaster skin, sonorous voice, balletic grace and palpable inner life she is worth seeing in “Mrs Caliban” for its opening sequences alone, as she repeatedly bids mechanical goodbyes to her detached husband, washes dishes and dances into deep fantasy to the sound of classical music on the radio.

Greenberg, ordinarily the master of crisp, brainy British gents, displays an impressive sensual heat, humor and woundedness in his eerily “beached” character. And there is smart work by Dan Granata as Dorothy’s lost husband, Jenifer Tyler as her shrilly stylish yet broken best friend, and Monica Dionysiou as everyone from saleswoman to savage teenager.



From Time Out Chicago

February 17, 2010
By Caitlin Montanye Parrish


If The Tempest belonged to Prospero’s daughter, Miranda, instead of all those boys, it might look like Ingalls’s 1983 novel Mrs. Caliban. In Limoncelli’s high-spirited adaptation, it’s a deeply funny story of grief and emotional shipwreck.

Dorothy (Barrie) cleans her perfectly white home morning after morning, once her emotionally distant husband has gone. Slowly but surely, life’s disappointments congeal into a gentle madness, embodied by the arrival of a loving and lovable sea monster named Larry. Dorothy falls for the creature and begins to concoct an escape plan for the pair of them—not just to flee the scientists in pursuit of Larry but to break free from Dorothy’s claustrophobic life.

While Brandon Wardell’s sumptuous lights and Chelsea Warren’s off-kilter white set aid Dorothy’s journey from sanitized mourning to unbridled desire, the duty of grounding this fairy tale falls largely on the cast’s capable shoulders. Barrie is as nimble as ever; whether dancing to alleviate the boredom of chores or wailing on the seashore to call her lover home, she lends the integrity of heartbreak to a story that could easily slide into the ridiculous. Greenberg’s laconic and oddly sexy Larry, meanwhile, walks the line between laughable and tragic.



From the Northwest Indiana Times

Rush to see ‘Mrs. Caliban’
February 19, 2010
By Carol Moore

“Mrs. Caliban,” the new production at Lifeline Theatre, is a play full of contradictions.

At first it seems to be about the dull realism of everyday life. Fred (Dan Granata) and Dorothy (Brenda Barrie, a native of Whiting-Robertsdale area) barely speak to one another as they get on with life. He goes to his job and his mistress. She stays home, with the radio for company. Their marriage died as a result of a tragedy — the death of their son during a routine appendectomy.

Dorothy’s best friend Estelle (Jenifer Tyler), a divorced mother of two, is looking for love, while her daughter Sandra (Monica Dionysiou) is throwing herself at Estelle’s former lover.

But then suddenly Dorothy is off on a weird — or is it magical journey — when a green sea monster who has escaped from a lab turns up in her kitchen. Although Dorothy should be afraid, she’s not — because, after all, someone called “Larry” (Peter Greenberg), who loves avocados, couldn’t really be a monster, could he? The monster is sort of gentle and kind, so Dorothy hides him in her son’s room. The monster doesn’t chase the human in this story. Instead, she is obsessed with him.

This is an enigmatic play which will keep you guessing. As my friend Karen and I left the theater, we were still trying to figure it out. If you’re a reader, Lifeline Theatre is the place for you since most of their productions are original stage adaptations of interesting books. “Mrs. Caliban,” is an adaptation of a novel by Rachel Ingalls which I’m definitely going to read.